Maryland’s 2017 Legislative Session Now Closed

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Wrapping up on April 10, the General Assembly considered 2,876 bills and resolutions over the 90-day session.  Of those, 940 bills and resolutions passed.   I am preparing a full session report but, of note, the bill containing our offices’ ability to accept orders from physicians in neighboring states passed and will become law as soon as Governor Larry Hogan signs it.  The budget passed nearly two weeks before it was due, including a 2% increase in Medicaid home health care reimbursement rate.  A bill mandating paid sick leave statewide passed but is expected to be vetoed.  Finally, three separate efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 – statewide, in Baltimore City, and in Montgomery County – all failed.  Now the work to prepare for next session begins.

Delaware: Now’s The Time for Advocacy!

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, DE Government Affairs (GAO)

The Delaware General Assembly has recessed until April 25, making now the perfect time to reach out to your legislators to schedule a visit with one of our clients or a discussion in your office.  Support for our rate floor bill is growing.  This bill would strengthen home health care across the state, ensuring that reimbursement rates from Medicaid-contracted organizations would be no lower than Medicaid pays directly.  This would enable all home health care providers to make informed business decisions, with the assurance that private rates would never fall below that “floor.”  We already have bipartisan support in the House.  We’re meeting with additional representatives and moving to build support with senators on both sides of the aisle as well.

Working on a Solution for the Retro Rate Increase

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

GAO, working collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) and Matt Wolfe, AHHC’s legal counsel, continues to work with Medicaid Director Dave Richard and key lawmakers, including Senators Ralph Hise and Tommy Tucker, and Representatives Nelson Dollar and Josh Dobson to resolve a technical issue with the retroactive rate increase for CAP-C nursing. As you may recall the General Assembly appropriated funds last session to increase the nursing rate by 10% effective July 1, 2016. The Department is supportive and is seeking a solution with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). GAO will keep you informed as things develop.

Rate Increase Discussions Underway in North Carolina

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

GAO has been working collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) laying the groundwork for an increase this legislative session. As approved by our GAO Advisory Council, we are seeking to increase the aide rate under 3 programs and 2 settings from $13.88 to $17.00, over a 2-year period ($15.50 and $17.00). Substantive conversations with key lawmakers are gaining traction. This increase is a huge lift at $23.9M each year. Our legislative day, scheduled for May 17, will focus on garnering broad support for this much needed increase. Legislative Day registration is coming soon.

 

Expanding Our Reach Through A NC Home Visit

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

When freshman NC Representative Andy Dulin expressed an interest in home health care, Charlotte Personal Care (CPC) Hearts for Home Care Ambassador and Client Service Manager Shayla Jemmott, and Clinical Manager Deborah Batts jumped into action. They hosted a home visit with CJ, a 24-year old young man with cerebral palsy, and his family. CJ’s mom explained how the three hours per day of certified nursing assistant services allows her to work and gives them a sense of peace knowing CJ is happy and healthy. Rep. Dulin asked great questions and was surprised to learn that the aide rate, at $13.88, is only $0.44 cents higher than back in 2001. He indicated he is willing to help us garner support for the increase.

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Representative Dulin with CJ

BAYADA Government Affairs Office Takes Ambassadors to Trenton, NJ

Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, NJ Government Affairs (GAO)

Advocacy with lawmakers is so important for our clients and families.  On March 22, Ambassador of the Year, Hudson County (HUD) Client Service Manager Ida Rodriquez, Perth Amboy (PER) Client Service Manager Julia Nelson, and Client Advocacy Manager Tara Montague accompanied me in Trenton where we met Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Senior Advisor to the Speaker Wayne Zitt. We discussed home health care and the need for higher reimbursement in order to pay higher wages for home health aides. As a result of the meeting, Assemblyman Karabinchak will co-sponsor A320 which sets a floor in managed care at the state’s fee for service rate. Senior Advisor Zitt will encourage the bill to be voted upon by the General Assembly. Both Ambassadors enjoyed the day in Trenton as they met many other legislators throughout the statehouse.

A Day in the Life of a Massachusetts Mom/Advocate

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On February 27, several BAYADA employees, home health care family members and others working toward getting a patient bill of rights passed, gathered at the state house in Boston to meet with legislators.  Lisa B. was en-route with her son, an adult home care client in his early 30s, and his son’s nurse.  Their goal for the day was to speak with different elected officials about the need for a rate increase for continuous skilled nursing services and to advocate for a patient bill of rights that is making its way through the legislative system toward becoming a law.  Just four miles from the state house, Lisa and the nurse saw that her son’s medical condition had changed and they quickly pulled their van over near the outskirts of a public park to help him.  He was struggling to breath due to a mucous plug.  In addition to this, he had lost control of his bowels.  As they pulled off the road, it happened to be near where an undercover police officer was working.  Startled by their presence, the officer approached them.  It took a bit, but Lisa and the nurse were able to clear the plug and get him back to a normal status.  They also changed his clothing and got everything back to normal.  The police officer was so motivated to help the family that he provided them with a police escort to the state house.  As a result of their dedication to the greater cause of helping people with special medical needs, they were still able to meet with senators and representatives and discuss the importance of home care nursing and the patient bill of rights from the perspective of the family.

BAYADA Sponsors Second Lobby Day in Massachusetts

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

The Government Affairs Office (GAO) organized a second lobby day for continuous skilled nursing providers and parents to discuss our Patient Bill of Rights.  With over 27 meetings scheduled, we focused on meeting with our legislators that sit on important committees and introduced our need to file a budget amendment to support the increased reimbursement rate needed to compete for a median of nurses.  The day was successful, as we lined up House and Senate budget amendment sponsors and additional co-sponsors for the bill.  As stated by the lobbyists from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, we “have set a solid foundation to build upon.” Next, we wait to see where the House will assign the bill and wait for a budget hearing.

Pennsylvania House And Senate Appropriations Committees Host Marathon Hearings

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee hosted hearings for the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. This was an opportunity for the various secretaries to defend the Governor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Each hearing lasted for five hours and covered a variety of subjects.  Much of the discussion centered around the value of home care and Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. During the hearing, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas acknowledged if the minimum wage is increased, the state will also need to increase reimbursement rates. Secretary Dallas claims a $12 minimum wage would lift 145,000 Pennsylvanians out of poverty and off of assistance. The secretary has calculated that it would save the state $48 million in DHS spending.

Making The Rounds in North Carolina

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

BAYADA Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I met with key lawmakers this past week, seeking their support for a rate increase for aide services under three Medicaid programs – Personal Care Services, Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA), and CAP for Children (CAP-C)- in two different settings: in-home care and adult care homes.  While the lift is heavy, $47.8 million to bring the rate from $13.88 to $17.00 over two years, our conversations were positive.  We also met with the newly appointed but not yet confirmed Secretary of Health & Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen.  A good round of meetings!

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Dave Totaro, Lee and Dobson Rep. Carla Cunningham, who is a nurse